Google Apps Premier and Education users will notice the addition of Google Groups to their available services this morning. Groups is hugely popular among communities, user groups, and even closed internal discussion forums but remained outside of the Google Apps portfolio. To overcome this, companies like Appirio, that use Google Groups for internal discussions have their users create identical Google accounts using their Google Apps username. We can now roll Groups right into our Google Apps domain. The following Google Groups features are now included in Google Apps Premier and Education Editions:
- Fast set-up. Employees and students can now create collaborative groups instantly without burdening IT, and manage the group settings to fit their needs.
- Searchable archives. Group discussions are archived by default, allowing users to easily search and view past and present discussions via the web.
- Sharing with a group. Once a group is set up, employees and students can easily share a document, spreadsheet, presentation, shared folder, site, calendar, or video with that group. No need to type in individual email address manually, or remember who joined or left the group. Plus, the shared items will only be accessible by the appropriate people, even as people join and leave the group.
- Reply on behalf of a group. In addition to communicating via email or the web interface, the new functionality lets group managers send a message on behalf of a group.
- IT capabilities. IT administrators still manage if and how users can create groups from the administrative control panel.
Here’s some quick instructions on how to extend your domain for Groups. Note, this will only work for Premier and Education users. First, login to your Apps dashboard. http://www.google.com/a/cpanel/domainname
That’s it! From your dashboard you can drill back into the console for the Groups service and set your preferences from there. You have the option to make your Groups public or internal, grant access to those who can create Groups, and restrict emails from outside your domain. All the same options you have with Groups today. Have fun… while you’re adding services check out Google Apps Short Links(labs) and Google Moderator (labs, but a great example of a Google App Engine application)… if you don’t have a Premier of Education version, but want to see more detail on the new offering, check out the short video below.